Silver Linings of a Quarantine at the Beach

Ali Steward in quarantine
The author, at home, with the only beach she’ll be seeing for a while. (Photo courtesy Ali Steward)
Ali Steward in quarantine

The author, at home, with the only beach she’ll be seeing for a while. (Photo courtesy Ali Steward)

By Ali Steward, MPH, Beach Cities Health District

Dear Beach Cities,

It’s been a few weeks since life as we knew it was turned upside down. But maybe a silver lining is that our perspectives have been upended, too. It’s still essential that we stay home and adhere to the latest public health guidelines, with surging COVID-19 cases and shortages of essential supplies. But this is not about any of those things. It’s about the good stuff happening at the beach while we’re “Safer at Home.”

Neighbors being neighborly. Call it a Midwest mentality, but neighbors are greeting neighbors – from a safe distance, of course – and offering a hello, instead of passing silently or staring at their phones. It’s nice.

Empathy for service workers. People that you may have rushed by in the past, with little acknowledgement – including restaurant servers, cashiers, clerks – are now godsends to help you feed your family and keep a semblance of normalcy. We see you, and we thank you.

What commute? Unless you’re talking about the race to make coffee, that you get to enjoy at your house, in a real coffee mug, most likely in your pajamas. On a Thursday.

Crowning true heroes. The new celebrities are doctors, nurses, first responders, public health workers and teachers – at least this feels right in this new world.

All that family time. Whether you’re on a Netflix binge together (we see you, “Tiger King”) or trying to maintain as much distance as possible while all still residing under one roof, we’re getting lots of family time, however you define family. 

Reconnecting and pressing pause. Whether you’re using this time at home to reconnect with far-flung relatives or bygone classmates or participate in endless opportunities for tele-socializing, this is a chance to reevaluate what’s important, and also embrace JOMO – the joy of missing out. 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. While we longingly look at dreamy photos of empty beaches from local photographers Bo Bridges, Richard Podgurski Jr. and Jeff Poe, it makes you appreciate how lucky we are to live here. Same goes for Beach Life Festival and other signature “only at the beach” events. We’ll be ready with our Tommy Bahama chairs when these opportunities return.

Takeout from restaurants. It feels indulgent to have a truly decadent meal from a top local restaurant like Bettolino Kitchen, Barsha or Hook & Plow – at your own kitchen table. Or, more realistically, from your lap on the couch. We’re lucky to have so many locally-owned restaurants that are still serving delicious meals. Same goes for local favorites like Brother’s Burritos and Mickey’s Deli – best eaten on the curb out front.

Shopping local. The entrepreneurial spirit of the South Bay lives on, even in tough times. Local businesses have quickly adapted to online sales, displaying their offering in storefronts and arranging for local pickup and delivery. If you have the option, more than ever, shop local.

A surge of civic pride. Whether you’re “Hermosa Strong,” “Safer at Home Manhattan Beach,” “South Bay Strong” or “Better Together Beach Cities,” there has been a surge of community and civic engagement. Community is the social fabric of what makes living in the Beach Cities great, and it’s been on display as neighbors help neighbors, offer a little kindness and check on one another.

And finally, you’re at the beach. You live here. You LiveWell. And that seven miles of sand will be waiting for you on the other side of this.



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